23
$\begingroup$

According to the Wikipedia article on Venera-D,

A lander, based on the Venera design, is also planned, capable of surviving for a long duration on the planet's surface.

The surface of Venus has temperatures of 462°C and pressures of 9.2 MPa. How can any useful payload function for more than a couple of hours in such conditions? In the near-vacuum of space, radiators can be used to get rid of excess heat, but on Venus, the atmosphere would just radiate back, so that wouldn't work. The only solution I can envisions is a giant, powerful, active refrigerator — and that would only address one of the problems. I suppose one would not only need to cool down the instruments, but also external components such as solar panels (if applicable). On the plus side, one should be able to simulate Venus conditions in a lab somewhat accurately.

Have any payloads been demonstrated (in a lab) to function for a longer time in conditions similar to the Venus surface, using active cooling with a feasible power budget? By a longer time, I mean long enough so that mission control can interact with the spacecraft, decide what to look for based on initial results, etc.; so let's say at least one month.

Similar question: What material properties would be necessary to shield a lander from the environment of the Venusian surface?. The other question focusses on materials, whereas I specifically ask if it has been demonstrated in a lab, considering all aspects.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Deer Hunter: don't judge by Phobos-Grunt alone. The very successful Spektr-R/Radioastron space telescope is essentially the very same spacecraft (modulo scientific payload). $\endgroup$ – horsh Aug 15 '13 at 16:45
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I don't know if by long duration they mean to design it for hours, days, or weeks, nor how they plan to power the lander. But my question stands regardless of what Venera-D really aims for. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Aug 15 '13 at 16:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @gerrit: well, the Russian version of Wikipedia says "no less than several days". $\endgroup$ – horsh Aug 15 '13 at 16:57
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ It's a well known fact in space exploration. Russian's can't have a successful Mars mission, but everything they send to Venus works. Only a slight exaggeration... $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Aug 15 '13 at 20:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Theoretically (ignoring cost) could exotic semiconductors (computers) and magnetic materials (motors) function at such temperatures? My wild guess is that high temperature operation is theoretically possible but that the R&D costs required for the end result and its manufacture would be enormous with limited use outside of visiting Venus. $\endgroup$ – Paul A. Clayton Aug 15 '13 at 20:44
22
$\begingroup$

There is one area of exploration on Earth that approximates conditions on Venus, namely that of deep oil and gas mining, and a few additional areas of technology, near avionics engines, and even auto engines. The stated goal for such electronics is to function at 200 C or higher.

The most promising technology for surviving high temperatures is Silicon Carbide electronics, with hermetically sealed ceramic packages. These can be rated for as high as 600 C, but they aren't completely available yet.

Bottom line, it is just barely within our technology today to build something to survive on Venus (460 C), and operate at high temperatures/pressures. Likely, the solution will come from the Oil Mining Industry, where it is common to operate at high temperatures and pressures today. It will take significant engineering, but everything does in the space industry anyways.

$\endgroup$
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ This is half the reason I love the space industry: because of all the clever engineering solutions that are used to push it forward. The other half is just because space is so interesting itself. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Aug 22 '13 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ sciencealert.com/… $\endgroup$ – gerrit Feb 26 '17 at 23:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @gerrit I was right! $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Feb 27 '17 at 12:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.